Race to maintain hold on N.E. market
By Matt Viser, Globe Staff
The Connecticut Indian tribe that operates the Foxwoods casino and its Las Vegas partner are actively scouring Massachusetts for casino locations, part of a race between two of Connecticut's tribes to protect their share of the New England gambling market.
The Mashantucket Pequot and MGM Mirage, which operates the Bellagio and MGM Grand among other resorts in Las Vegas and other casinos around the country, have so far shopped for a site in the Boston area and in Western Massachusetts. Foxwoods officials spent a good portion of the past two months in talks with operators of Wonderland Greyhound Park in Revere, but the talks fizzled. An executive from MGM Mirage, meanwhile, has looked at a 1,600-acre tract in the Central Massachusetts town of Warren.
Another tribe, the Mohegan, which operates Mohegan Sun, was the first Connecticut tribe to plant a flag in Massachusetts with a proposed site on 150 acres in Palmer.
The competing tribes' interest in bidding for gaming licenses under Governor Deval Patrick's plan to introduce resort-casinos demonstrates how they are seeking to use their riches to expand beyond Connecticut's borders, after enjoying a lock on New England casino gambling for more than a decade.
Under Patrick's proposal, the state would auction off three licenses, one each in metropolitan Boston, Southeastern Massachusetts, and Western Massachusetts.
The Pequot formed a partnership with MGM Mirage last year to seek development possibilities worldwide. Scott Snow, executive vice president of MGM Mirage, recently toured the Warren location, according to the current property owners.
The Warren site, adjacent to the intersection of Interstates 90 and 84, is less than 10 miles from the area in Palmer where the Mohegan tribe wants to build.
"We are interested in Massachusetts," said Alan Feldman, MGM's senior vice president of public affairs, who stressed that any discussions are preliminary and would depend on what the final legislation, which the Legislature is not expected to take up until next year, looks like. "There's interest on the part of everyone in the industry. We'll see where it all leads."
MGM, the largest landowner on Las Vegas Boulevard, is one of the dominant casino developers in the world, operating several resorts in Las Vegas and casinos in Detroit, Atlantic City, and Biloxi, Miss. ... (Full Story)